County OKs Samsung ordinance

By Andrew Wigger -

NEWBERRY COUNTY — Newberry County Council has approved a third reading of an ordinance that authorizes the county to acquire the Caterpillar building and contiguous property for use by Samsung.

Ray Jones, attorney for the county in this matter, discussed the ordinance with Council during its meeting on Wednesday night.

“You are well aware that there is a lot of activity going on in conjunction with the Samsung project. We have been working with you, the county, to help Samsung get everything done that it is trying to get done,” Jones said. “This is gong to be the first in a series of ordinances that will come before Council that relates to the Samsung project.”

This particular ordinance deals with property-related transfers and two different grants. The properties mentioned in this ordinance not only include the Caterpillar building, but also the SWM property and two additional parcels that surround the SWM property that are owned by the county.

“The county has been extremely cautious in how it has been willing to transfer property or allow Samsung to use the property. For instance, currently Samsung is occupying the Caterpillar building, pursuant to what is called a license, which will ultimately convert to a lease,” Jones said. “We are doing that to make sure all the investments that we anticipate are coming, that a good chunk of it actually comes.

“Once that happens there will be a transfer of that building to Samsung,” he said. “That is part of the overall incentive package. Rather than making the transfer immediately, the county I think is being prudent in keeping title of the building before it goes to Samsung, to make sure all of Samsung’s intentions are in fact fulfilled.”

This ordinance will enable the county to either transfer the property to Samsung, lease it to the extent that is necessary, license it to Samsung (which is a different right to occupy) or otherwise transfer the property.

“We have presented an ordinance that has Council granting sufficient authority to both the chair and the administrator to work out the details of those agreements, consistent with the goals of the project with the advise of legal counsel, in order to meet the needs of the project. A different kind of approach, but one that has been called for because of how fast the project is moving,” Jones said.

The second item within the ordinance relates to grants, by both the state and the county.

“As you know economic development in South Carolina is a team sport, and this is a great team in Newberry County, and a very able team in Columbia as well working at the Department of Commerce,” Jones said. “When the Department of Commerce provides a grant to an economic development project they ask that the county administer the grant. This ordinance authorizes the county to administer the State Grant.”

The county has also authorized its own grant, to be administered by the county, specifically to benefit this project.

The third reading was approved after Councilman Travis Reeder made a motion and Councilwoman Harriett Rucker seconded.

In other business, Council approved a resolution authorizing the extension of the term of the Dec. 27, 1996 Lease Purchase Agreement by and between Newberry County and Kraft Foods Inc.

The resolution extends by one year the expiring fee agreement. The fee agreements in 1996 involved technical ownership of the industrial property by the county, with the property being leased back to the company, hence the reference to a “lease purchase” agreement.

County Administrator Wayne Adams said there were two reasons for the extension. The first is to allow for negotiation of a new fee deal without a lapse, and the second is to prevent the delay in the collection of property taxes for the current budget year.

Council approved this resolution after Rucker made a motion and Reeder seconded.

Other business

• Council approved a proclamation declaring September 2017 “Recovery Month.”

• Council approved the purchase of a brush cutter for Public Works in the amount of $96,740. The purchase involves a tractor and the boom mower that will be mounted on the tractor. These items are being sourced through state contract purchasing. The county’s purchasing ordinance does not require competitive bids.

• Council approved the acceptance of FEMA funding in the amount of $280,033 for the Old Jollystreet Road Bridge and for staff to look at bidding the project out as a two lane bridge.

By Andrew Wigger

Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.

Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.